Benjamin Franklin and Canada
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The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 12 Nov 1923, p. 310-329


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Riddell, The Honourable William Renwick, Speaker
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A review of historical events from the 1750’s. Franklin’s attitude towards Canada; his interest always in America. Examples of his dexterity and ability as a pamphleteer. The celebrated “Canada pamphlet.” A detailed review of Franklin’s words and arguments as outlined in these pamphlets. The prevailing of Franklin’s argument: Canada was retained; the fear of French-Canadians and French-Indians was removed; what Vergennes had prophesied took place; the Thirteen Colonies rebelled and the old British Empire was rent in twain to be time destroyed and a new British Empire built on the old foundations. Franklin not done with Canada when he had successfully advocated its retention by Britain. Thoughts and actions with regard to obtaining Canada as the fourteenth state. Attempting to sway Canada to the American cause. Ways in which Franklin was objectionable to the French-Canadians. Canada having Franklin to thank in great measure for her being as she is the brightest jewel in the British Crown, and for her flying the flag that braved a thousand years the battle and the breeze; forgiving him for the fruitless attempt to sever her destinies from the rest of the British world.
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12 Nov 1923
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English
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The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
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BENJAMIN FRANKLIN AND CANADA AN ADDRESS BY THE HONOURABLE WILLIAM RENWICK RIDDELL, LL.D., F.R.S.C., ETC., JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF ONTARIO Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto. November 12, 1923

The death blow to the old British Empire was struck in Canada in 1759, on the Plains of Abraham, when Wolfe died victorious, cheered in death by the cry, "They run."

The blow, however, narrowly failed of being ineffective; it might well have produced no wound at all, not to speak of one that was fatal; and had it not been for Benjamin Franklin, the old British Empire might have not received even a shock but have survived for many years.

Benjamin Franklin, printer, journalist, scientist, diplomatist, moralist, statesman, patriot, all in the first rank, was in 1757, at the age of fifty-one (1) sent to London by the Colony of

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(1) "The Americana," Vol. viii, Art. "Franklin, Benjamin," makes him in the 41st year of his age when in 1757 he was sent to London by his Province; it also says that he spent the next 41 years of his life practically all in the diplomatic service. As Franklin was born in 1706 and died in 1790, these figures should be 51st and 31 respectively.

Hon. William Renwick Riddell is a graduate in Arts and Science of Victoria University and a gold medallist of the Osgoode Hall Law School. The honorary degree of LL.D. has been conferred upon him by a number of universities in Canada and the United States, also the degrees of L.H.D. and J.U.D. He is a Justice of the Supreme Court of Ontario.

Mr. Justice Riddell has given much study to historical and constitutional problems, especially those connected with Britain, the United States and Canada, and the Empire Club is indebted to him for much valuable information on these and kindred matters.

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Pennsylvania with a petition to the King, George II, that Pennsylvania might be permitted to tax the lands of the Penn estates for the defence of the Colony from the French and Indians (1). It was during his residence as Agent for Pennsylvania at the Court of St. James (Massachusetts and Connecticut also utilized his services) that the ancient Universities of St. Andrews and Oxford honoured themselves as well as him by conferring upon him the degrees of LL.D. and D.C.L. for his literary and scientific attainments; and to his friends and admirers, he was thereafter "the Doctor."

He vas still in London when Quebec surrendered in September, 1759.

England was weary of war: the Seven Years' War, which she had entered in 1756 to save Prussia from destruction by France and her allies--absit omenglorious as it was, was depleting her resources; and in 1759 it was not going too well with her ally, Frederick. The Government headed by Pitt were set onprosecuting the war with vigour and were fairly well supported by the country. The splendid victories on this Continent were encouraging but not sufficiently so to prevent voices in some influential circles--generally Tory, indeed-being raised to stop the war and give up to France the conquered territory. Franklin opposed this step whenever and wherever an opportunity offered. We find him writing to Lord Kames from London, January 3rd, 1759, saying: "No one can more sincerely rejoice than I do, on the reduction of Canada; and this not merely as I am a colonist, but as I am a Briton. I have long been of opinion that the foundations of the future

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(1) It will be remembered that in this Province, we long had a similar grievance. Clergy Reserve lands were held free from their share of taxation, kept in many cases unimproved but increasing in value by the settlement and clearing of neighboring lands-the "unearned increment."

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grandeur and stability o f the British Empire lie in America; and though like other foundations, they are low and little now, they area nevertheless, broad and strong enough to support the greatest political structure that human wisdom ever yet erected. I am, therefore, by no means for restoring Canada. If we keep it, all the country from the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi will in another century be filled with British people. Britain itself will become vastly more populous by the immense increase of its commerce; the Atlantic sea will be covered with your trading ships; and your naval power, thence continually increasing, will extend your influence round the whole globe and awe the world. If the Frepch remain in Canada, they will continually harass our colonies by the Indians, and impede if not prevent their growth, your progress to greatness will at best be slow, and give room for many accidents that may forever prevent it." (1)

But Franklin did not confine his efforts to private letterwriting; he talked-and he was a most persuasive talker--to all of the slightest influence with whom he came in contact. The suggestions made by "some among our great men" who in 1759 had begun to prepare the minds of the people to surrender Canada because to keep it would draw on Britain the envy of nations and occasion a confederation against her, that Canada was too large and not worth possessing anyway, he combated "every day and every hour" and, as he rightly thought, with some success. He knew the English people, and he employed with skill and acumen the arguments which

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(1) The Life of Benjamin Franklin, written by Himself:

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By John Bigelow; London, 1879, vol. 1, p. 399. This letter, as it seems to me, may well put an end to the supposition that Franklin had an arriere pensee in writing the "Canada Pamphlet" about to be spoken of in the text. See my Article, "The Status of Canada," Journal issued by American Bar Association, June, 1921, pp. 293, sqq. would have the greatest weight. The old British Empire was built on the plan of the old Roman Empire-Colonies and Provinces existed and were retained not for themselves but for the Mother. Country. There was indeed no direct tribute exacted as in Roman times, but the Colonies paid an indirect tribute in affording a market for English goods and English trade-England was an essentially trading nation, and all her conquests had been for commercial advantages. The money spent for defending the Colonies was a premium of insurance against loss of trade. Accordingly, Franklin's weightiest argument was that by keeping Canada, the nation would save two or three millions a year, then spent in defending the American Colonies: and moreover, the Colonies would thrive and increase much more rapidly and so furnish a vast additional increase in the demand for British goods.

He did not confine himself to such arguments as this, but indulged in many other topics which he urged on occasion according to the company he was in or the persons he addressed.

Franklin, as a man loyal to his Province and his mission, had always in view in these discussions the interests of America; he did not trouble himself then or later about the interests of Canada, and only in a minor degree about the interests of the Mother Country (1).

But Franklin had another arrow in his quiver, more effective still; and that he now sped with marvellous skill. He turned to account his dexterity and ability as a pamphleteer.

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(1) See his letter to John Hughes from London, January 7, 1760; Bigelow, op. cit., p 402. He ends this letter: "And, on the whole, I flatter myself that my being here at this time may be of some service to the general interest of America." My own opinion is that his being there at that time revolutionized the world and changed the course of human history.

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It was the age of pamphlets; and it is possible that there were some written by Franklin which have disappeared or cannot be identified as his, but two we know of with certainty. The first in point of importance, and probably in point of time, is the celebrated "Canada Pamphlet." (1)

William Pulteney, who had been a power in his day, had destroyed his political prestige in 1742 by accepting a peerage, becoming Earl of Bath (2). He was hated by the King, George II, and never again was of importance; although the King in 1746, invited him to form a government, he failed.

But he was never content with his position: from time to time he made public appearances, like "an aged raven": his speeches had a little of the old ring of the times when Walpole feared his tongue more than another man's sword. The Earl had selected as travelling tutor for his son, the Rev. John Douglas, a native of Fifeshire, a graduate of Oxford and a former Army Chaplain: he presented the clergyman to two churches and they were close friends. Dr. Douglas (he took his D.D. degree in

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(1) The full title is "The Interest of Great Britain considered with regard to her Colonies, etc."--the pamphlet is very rare (my own copy cost me 98). It was almost certainly published by May, 1760; it is probably that referred to in Franklin's letter to Lord Kames dated London, 9, 1760; Bigelow, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 404-in which he says, "Enclosed you have the production such as it is."

(2) Horace Walpole, Earl of Oxford, says in a letter to the Countess of Ossory from Strawberry Hill, July 17, 1792, that Pulteney "had gobbled the honour but perceived his error too late, for the day that he entered the House of Lords, -he dashed his patent on the floor in a rage, and vowed he would never take it up; but it was too late-he had kissed the King's hand for it." Walpole's Letters, Cunningham's edition, vol. IX, p. 379; see also do, do. vol. i, p. cxliii. Walpole certainly got the better of him; and he himself said "he lost his head and was obliged to go out of town for three or four days to keep his senses." See. D.N.B., vol. xlvii, pp. 28, sqq.

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1758), had undoubted ability, and at the Earl's direction or suggestion he wrote several political pamphlets (1).

Pulteney early in 1760 induced Dr. Douglas to write a pamphlet on the war; and Dr. Douglas accordingly wrote "A letter on two Great Men on the Prospect of Peace and on the Terms." The "two Great Men" were the elder Pitt and Newcastle who had formed a Coalition Government three years before and had raised and spent money for war purposes with a profusion which appalled more timid financiers-but which would in the recent war have been considered trifling. This pamphlet Walpole calls "very dull"

it deals with the terms necessary to be insisted upon in the negotiations for peace, and gives reasons for preferring Canada to the conquests in the West Indies-Guadaloupe had been taken in January, 1759. This pamphlet was answered by another written by William Burke, "Remarks on 'A Letter to two Great Men"' which contained opposite opinions on this and other subjects (2).

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(1) He should be remembered for his vigorous, able and successful defence of John Milton from the charge of plagiarism made against him by William Lauder, another Scotsman and M.A. of Edinburgh. See D.N.B., vol. xv, pp. 337, 338.

(2) Horace Walpole, Earl of Oxford, says in a letter to George Montagu, from Arlington Street, January 14, 1760: "There is nothing new but a very dull pamphlet, written by Lord Bath and his chaplain Douglas, called a 'Letter to Two Great Men.' It is a plan for the peace and much adopted by the city, and much admired by those who are too humble to judge for themselves." Walpole's Letters, Cunningham's edition, vol. iii, p. 278. Walpole does not seem to have mentioned the Answer, or the "Canada Pamphlet." I have not seen either the Letter or the Answer: the former I have seen advertised for sale only once and I failed to acquire it; I have never seen the latter advertised. The substance of them, however, is made sufficiently clear in the Canada Pamphlet-Bigelow does not notice them.

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Now was Franklin's opportunity and he took advantage of it in the "Canada Pamphlet" (1) which was published anonymously in 1760; a second edition eliding certain matter irrelevant to the general purpose and amending the terminology in some respects (2) appeared in 1761, published with Franklin's

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(1) It would seem that Franklin wrote this pamphlet on the request of Lord Karnes. Writing to Kames from London, May 9, 1760, Franklin says: "I have endeavoured to comply with your request in writing something on the present situation of our affairs in America in order to give more correct notions of the British interest with regard to the colonies than those I found many sensible men possessed of. Enclosed you have the production such as it is. I wish it may, in any degree, be of service to the public." Bigelow, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 404, thinks this the "Canada Pamphlet," and I agree with him.

(2) David Hume seems to have criticized the language of the pamphlet: Franklin in a letter to him from Coventry, September 27, 1760, thanks Hume for his "friendly admonition relating to some unusual words in the pamphlet. It will be of service to me." He admits "pejorate" and "colonize" are not in common use and gives them up as bad, "for certainly in writings intended for persuasion and general information one cannot be too clear; and every expression in the least obscure is a fault" He thinks "unshakeable" clear, but he "gives it up as rather low"; and "the word inaccessible though long in use among us in not as yet, I dare say, so universally understood by our people as the word uncomeatable would immediately be which we are not allowed to write." Bigelow, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 412. "Pejorate," to make worse, is still an unusual and stilted word: Franklin in the first edition of the "Canada Pamphlet" in the "observations concerning the increase of mankind, etc," omitted in the second 'edition used the word in the sentence, "Slaves also pejorate the families that use them." The Works of Benjamin Franklin, LL.D., 2nd edition, London, vol, 2, p. 388. This essay was written in 1751. Robert Louis Stevenson uses the word (1893) in his Catriona: I do not recall its appearance elsewhere. It sounds odd to hear the word "colonize" characterized as obscure-it had been in use from Bacon's time, 1622; and is one of our commonest and most generally understood words. I do not know of a word to take its place. Franklin used it in the second edition, see p. 139. "Inaccessible" had been in use at least for two centuries, and it is very common at the present time--"uncomeatable" is still taboo in literary circles, but not unusual in familiar parlance.

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name as author, and is printed in Franklin's Works (1) . This is really a reply to the "Answer" and only incidentally is the "Letter" considered.

Franklin begins by demanding security from the "barbarous tribes of savages that delight in war and take pride in murder, subjects properly neither of the French nor the English, but strongly attached to the former by the art and indefatigable industry of priests, similarity of superstitions and frequent family alliances. There are easily and have been continually instigated to fall upon and massacre our planters even in times of full peace between the two crowns, to the certain diminution of our people and the contraction of our settlement." He points out the absurdity of forts as a sufficient protection against the French and the Indians; and urges that the possession of Canada is the only security. Answering the claim that the American colonists were wanting conquests made for them, he spiritedly says that these colonists "are in common with the other subjects of Great Britain anxious for the glory of her crown, the extent of her power and commerce, the welfare and future repose of the whole British people . . . . they have been actuated by a truly British spirit to exert themselves beyond their strength." Then he artfully suggests that if Canada is retained, the people in the colonies will spread over the mountains and take up land, making a market for English goods whereas if not, they must for their own safety remain confined within the mountains, go into manufacturing and afford goods

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(1) The Works of Benjamin Franklin, ut supra, vol. 3, pp. 89-143-this edition being readily available, I shall cite in this paper. The Pamphlet was "printed for Becket," London, 1761. Two editions were also published in Boston; and a long answer was also published there. It seems quite certain that while Franklin supplied most of the information, Richard Jackson wrote at least two-thirds of the text of the "Canada Pamphlet."

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"cheap enough to prevent the importation of the same kind from abroad, and to bear the expense of its own exportation." "But," he adds, "no man who can have a piece of land of his own sufficient by his labour to subsist his family in plenty is poor enough to be a manufacturer and work for his master while there is land enough in America for our people there can never be manufacturers to any amount or value." Franklin counters: "how can the author of the Remarks counselling the return of Canada to France, justify the retention of Guadeloupe which he represents as of so much greater value?"

Then he goes into the relative value of the two countries in an argument eminently fitted for his audience (1)

True, the trade with the West Indies is a valuable one but it has long been at a stand-limited as our sugar planters are by the scantiness of territory, they cannot increase much, and that evil will be little helped by our keeping Guadaloupe: the trade with the people in the northern colonies doubles in about twenty-five years--the exports to Pennsyl

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(1) There never was a more astute diplomat than Franklin, and he was extraordinarily able in feeling his audience and adapting his methods accordingly.

To indicate the strong feeling in favour of the retention of Guadaloupe it may be mentioned that Pitt in his Speech in the House of Commons, December 9, 1792, on the motion to approve the Preliminary Peace Treaty-he was so excessively ill that the House unanimously desired him to speak sitting-said that he had been blamed for consenting to give up Guadaloupe

He wished to have kept the Island; he had been overruled on that point; he could not help it; he had been overruled many times on many occasions. He had acquiesced, he had submitted . The Parliamentary History of England (Hansard), vol. XV, col. 1264. The motion passed the House 319 to 65, Pitt generally approving-he had left the Government with Temple shortly before on the question of War with Spain; the Papers relating to his negotiations with France are in do., do., cols. 10181210. The Peace was actually signed February 10, 1763.

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vania alone having increased in 28 years 17 times, the population having increased but four times. Suppose Guadaloupe does export £300,000 in sugar every year; who profits by it? Why, the French inhabitants of the Island who will not be dispossessed and who will spend no more than before on English manufactures. But Canada retained, and so the American colonists made safe, "the annual increment alone of our present colonies without diminishing their numbers or requiring a man from hence is sufficient in ten years to fill Canada with double the number of English that it now has of French inhabitants"-and all will be customers of England (1).

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(1) The expectation expressed concerning the French population of Canada is interesting. "Those who are Protestants among the French will probably choose to remain under the English government; many will choose to remove if they can be allowed to sell their lands, improvements and effects; the rest in that thin-settled country will in less than half-a-century from the crowds of English settling round and among them be blended and incorporated with our people both in language and in manners."

When Canada was retained on the Peace of 1763, it was confidently expected that it would soon be settled by an English-speaking community, and not a few merchants came in to Quebec and Montreal from Britain and the American Colonies to the south; the Royal Proclamation of 1763 promised the protection of the English law; and free lands were offered to settlers. The expectation that many French Canadians would remove proved fallacious, as but a negligible part went to France, although they had full leave to dispose of their property and had eighteen months to do it. No great English-speaking immigration set in until the Revolutionary War; and the French refused to blend with the newcomers in language or in customs-rather the reverse was the case. The movement to unite the Canadas in 1822 was in essence a movement to overwhelm the French Canadians; and Lord Durham's scheme of Union (1840) had the same result in view. All these designs proved vain imaginings-the astute statesmen failed to reckon with the virility and love of language of the French and the fertility of French mothers.

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The most curious part of this pamphlet is that in which he contests the argument in the Answer that the American colonies would become dangerous to Great Britain if allowed to grow. "Of this, I own, I have not the least conception when I consider that we have already fourteen separate governments on the maritime coasts of the continent; and if we extend our settlements, shall probably have as many more behind them on the inland side. Those we now have are not only under different governors, but have different forms of government, different laws, different interests, and some of them different religious persuasions and different manners. Their jealousy of each other is so great that however necessary an union of the colonies has long been for their common defence and security against their enemies and how sensible so-ever each colony has been of that necessity, yet they have never been able to effect such an union among themselves, nor even to agree in requesting the mother country to establish it for them. Nothing but the immediate command of the Crown has been able to produce even the imperfect union, but lately seen there, of the forces of some colonies (1). If they could not

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(1) In Pepperrell's expedition against Louisbourg, 1745, were troops from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New HampshirePennsylvania declined to join. Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia wrote to his brother in Boston, "Fortified towns are hard nuts to crack, and your teeth are not accustomed to it; but some seem to think that forts are as easy to take as snuff"-and he used his influence against Pennsylvania joining.

Parkman, A Half-Century of Conflict, Champlain Ed., Boston, 1897, vol. 2, p. 70.

Probably the reference in the text is to the American contingent in the war then going on; troops were contributed by Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, North and South Carolinas, New Jersey-not all at the same time or in the same expedition. "The Royal American Regiment" took part as an Imperial contingent in the campaigns of 1759, 1760.

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agree to unite for their defence against the French and the Indians who are perpetually harassing their settlements, burning their villages and murdering their people, can it be reasonably supposed there is any danger of their uniting against their own nation which protects and encourages them, with which they have so many connections and ties of blood interest and affection and which it is well known, they all love more than they love each other? In short, there are so many causes that must operate to prevent it that I will venture to say, an union amongst them for such a purpose is not merely improbable, it is impossible."

Franklin's task was not yet complete: the cry for peace continued, and to meet that by casting discredit on its authors, he wrote another article which he sent to the London Chronicle; it was afterwards published in the Gentlemen's Magazine. He pretended to have found in a bookstall an old quarto without title page or author's name, containing discourses addressed to some King of Spain, translated into English and said in the last leaf to be printed in London by Bonham Horton and John Bill, "Printers to the King's Most Excellent Majestie, MDCXXIX" (1)

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(1) No doubt, Franklin had seen such a colophon: Bonham Norton (15651635) was a King's Printer: D.N.B., vol. xli, pp. 225, 226: but the book is a myth. The date of Franklin's Letter is not certainly known, but Sparks says, "its contents show it to have been written towards the close of the French war and probably in 1760, or the year following. Under the disguise of a pretended chapter from an old book and an imitation of an antiquated style he throws out hints suited to attract attention and afford amusement" I think Sparks quite underrates the purpose and effect of this communication: it is a most ingenious and telling document calculated to cast suspicion on the advocates of peace. The Ency. Brit., 11th ed., vol. 11, p. 25, says it "had a great effect." I think, however, it is in error in dating it before the "Canada Pamphlet"

See Bigelow, op. cit., vol. 1, pp. 414, 415 and note. Franklin

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he adds: "The author appears to have been a Jesuit . . . . . Give me leave to communicate to the public a chapter so apropos to our present situation (only changing Spain for France) that I think it well worth general attention and observation, as it discovers the acts of our enemies and may therefore help in some degree to put us on our guard against them." There had been writings and discourses, he says, in Britain like those recommended in the Spanish book; and although so far they had little effect as "all ranks and degrees among us persist hitherto in declaring for a vigorous prosecution of the war in preference to an unsafe, disadvantageous or dishonourable peace, yet as a little change of fortune may make such writings more attended to and give them greater weight, I think the publication of this piece as it shows the spring from whence these scribblers draw their poisoned waters, may be of public utility."

Then he copies what purports to be a chapter from the old book.

"Chap. XXXIV.

On the Meanes of disposing the Enemie to Peace."

It is in the main a recommendation to the King of Spain who is supposed to be at war with England to gain by proper meaner, i.e., by bribery, "Menne of Learning (in England) ingenious Speakers and Writers who are nevertheless in lowe Estate and Pinched by Fortune . . . . in their Sermons, Discourses, Writings, Poems and Songs to

magnifie the Blessings of Peace . . . . expatiate

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signed the communication to the London Chronicle, "A Briton."

While Franklin frequently declared that in the "Canada Pamphlet" he received considerable assistance from a learned friend who was not willing to be named, but who is now known to have been Richard Jackson, Agent for Massachusetts and Connecticut, no one has ever doubted that Franklin was the sole and only author of this production.

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on the Miseries of War, the Waste of Christian Blood, the growing Sacrifice of Labourers and Workmen, the Dearness of all foreign Wares and Merchandise, the Interruption of Commerce, the Capture of Ships, the Increase and great Burthen of Taxes. Let them represent the Advantages gained against us as trivial and little Import; the Places taken from us as of small Trade and Produce, inconvenient for Situation, unwholesome for Ayre and Climate, useless to their Nation and greathe chargeable to keep, draining the home Countrie both of Menne and Money . . ," etc., etc., precisely the arguments which had been used to bring on a peace with the surrender of Canada, and precisely the arguments used by the agents of Germany in the late World War. Nothing was better adapted to throw suspicion on the Pacifists, whom Franklin looked upon as dangerous to England, and more dangerous to America. (1)

Franklin's argument prevailed: Canada was retained; the fear of French-Canadians and FrenchIndians was removed; what Vergennes had prophesied took place: the Thirteen Colonies rebelled and the old British Empire was rent in twain to be in time destroyed and a new British Empire built on the old foundations, composed of "practically independent sister States co-operating for the common good," (2) whose Prime Ministers meet on an equality in the Imperial Conference (3)

But Franklin was not done with Canada when he had successfully advocated its retention by Britain.

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(1) See this curious production in Bigelow, op. cit., vol. 1, pp. 416-420; the communication to the London Chronicle, do., do., pp. 414-416.

(2) The language of the Prince of Wales as accurate as it is inspiring.

(3) The words of Mr. Baldwin, Prime Minister of Britain, reported this morning, November 15, 1923.

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When the Thirteen Colonies found their grievances intolerable and sent Delegates to a Continental Congress at Philadelphia, the Congress soon cast its eyes to the North, and thought of obtaining Canada as the Fourteenth. Military invasions were made into Canada by Continental troops: Quebec was besieged and Montreal was taken. Other means were used; concealed emissaries were sent to win the adherence of Canadians to the American cause; and the Congress made an Address, October 26, 1774, to the Canadians, inviting them to send Delegates to the Congress which was to meet at Philadelphia, May 10, 1775 (1). The Address, however, specifically said: "We do not ask you . . to commence hostilities against the government of our common Sovereign." This Address having no effect, it was later decided to send a Letter to the Inhabitants of Canada. Montreal was in the possession of the Americans when, January 24, 1776, Congress directed a Letter to the Canadians: "We will never abandon you to the unrelenting fury of your and our enemies; two battalions have already received orders to march to Canada" (2). And, Thursday, February 17, 1776, it was "Resolved, That a Committee of Three (two of whom to be Members of Congress) be appointed to proceed to Canada, there to pursue such instructions as shall be given by Congress." Franklin was appointed along with Samuel Chase of Maryland and Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the last named being a Roman Catholic. Congress also "Resolved,

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(1) This address is believed to be the production of John Dickinson, of Pennsylvania, aptly termed the "pen of the revolution": it is an exceedingly clever piece of work, and might have had some effect if the French-Canadians could read. It is well known that Benjamin Franklin on his return from his fruitless mission to Canada said that the next mission should be of schoolmasters. The address is printed in full in Kingsford's History of Canada, vol. 5, pp. 262-267.

(2) This was agreed on, January 24, 1776: see Force, American Archives, ser. iv, vol. 4, p. 1653.

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That Mr. Carroll be requested to prevail on Mr. John Carroll to accompany the Committee to Canada to assist them in such matters as they shall think useful."

John Carroll was a kinsman of Charles Carroll, a Jesuit priest of great learning, courteous and conciliatory, gentle in his bearing and thoughtful of others, heretics or otherwise; he afterwards became the first Archbishop of Baltimore. Both the Carrolls were fluent French scholars, having been educated at the Jesuit College at St. Omer. The Commissioners, accompanied by Father Carroll and a French printer, Mesplet, arrived at Montreal. The priest served one Mass and endeavoured to convince the French clergy of the importance to them of joining the American cause: Franklin and his colleagues made the same attempt with the laity; Mesplet printed two papers and stopped, as not one in five hundred of the populace could read. The whole mission was a dismal failure. Why?

Outside of those of the English-speaking who were already in favour of the Americans, the Englishspeaking were loyaland as to the French-Canadians, the mission was doomed to failure from the beginning.

They were, as they are, devout Catholics, holding their religion as an inestimable blessing which they should transmit unimpaired to their children. They looked up to and revered their priests; and the priests could read if they could not. There was a very able Bishop at Quebec, Briand, who kept a vigilant eye on his flock and on everything that did or might affect them, spiritually or materially. He saw to it that the priests were made aware of the principles expressed by the Continental Congress in an Address to the people of Great Britain adopted, October 21, 1774, complaining of the Quebec Act of 1774. This Act had been passed by the Imperial Parliament for the purpose of satisfying the French-Canadians; it has reintroduced the former Canadian Civil Law displaced in 1763 by the English Law, and had allowed the Roman Catholic clergy to obtain tithes from the members of their own Church. The Continental Congress complained to the people of Great Britain that by this Act, Canada was intended to injure the Colonies, "to be so extended, modelled and governed that by their numbers daily swelling with Catholic emigrants from Europe and by their devotion to an Administration so friendly to their religion they may become formidable to us and on occasion be fit instruments in the hands of power to reduce the ancient free Protestant Colonies to the same state of slavery with themselves . . . . Nor can we suppress our astonishment that a British Parliament should ever consent to establish in that country (Canada), a religion that has deluged your Island in blood and dispersed impiety, bigotry, persecution, murder and rebellion through every part of the world." (1)

It was also known that this was not mere idle chatter or facon de parler: it expressed the real sentiments of the vast majority of the Congressthe Thirteen Colonies as a whole were furiously anti-Catholic (2), and with the exception of one Pro

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(1) Force, op. cit., ser. iv, vol. i, p 290--in an earlier part of the same address, the Congress had said: "We think the Legislature (i.e., the Imperial Parliament), is not authorized to establish a religion fraught with sanguinary and impious tenets."

(2) One Roman Catholic writer says that the American Colonies were indulging in an orgy of anti-catholicism; and the language is not too strong.

There are so many who, as Morley says of Froude,--Recollections by John, Viscount Morley, Toronto, 1917, Vol. 1, p. 280-"think the quarrel between Protestant and Catholic the only thing in the universe that matters," that they think anyone contemptible who with Daniel O'Connell can say: "Every religion is good, every religion is true to him who in his due caution and conscience believes it. There is but one bad religion, that of a man who professes

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vince, to be a Catholic there was to lose the rights of a citizen.

Franklin, it would seem, was objectionable to the FrenchCanadians (although not to the Englishspeaking) in another way-they remembered his efforts twenty years before to cause their country to become part of the British domain, and la Nouvelle

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a faith which he does not believe; but the good religion may be, and often is, corrupted by the wretched and wicked prejudices which admit a difference of opinion as a cause of hatred."

In many part of the Thirteen Colonies "a Protestant family ran a fearful risk in harboring a Romanist." Shea's History of the Catholic Church in the United States, N.Y., 1890, p. 498. Even after the Declaration of Independence, which is very generally supposed to have put an end to this religious intolerance, the New England Primer, which was put in the hands of very many children, had cuts of the "Man of Sin." The edition of 1779 contains a picture of the martyrdom by burning of John Rogers in 1554 and the statement: "A few days before his death he wrote the following advice to his children, 'Abhor the arrant whore of Rome and all her blasphemies. And drink not of her cup; obey not her decrees."' See Paul Leicester Ford's, The New England Primer; Riley's, The Founder of Mormonism, London, 1902.

The mutual tolerance in old Quebec of Protestant and Catholic has been underrated. While there was almost from the beginning, certainly from 1763 a strong anti-English and anti-French feeling, there never was any anti-Protestant and anti-Catholic feeling. As is well known, Lord Durham in his celebrated Report, 1838,-which showed the state of society in Lower Canada after decades of dispute and recrimination between French and English-was (somewhat to his own astonishment) able to say: "It is indeed an admirable feature of Canadian society that it is entirely devoid of any religious dissensions. Sectarian intolerance is not merely not avowed, but it hardly seems to influence men's feelings." Lucas' Lord Durham's Report, Oxford, 1912, vol. i, pp. 239, 240; vol. ii, p. 39. And this when Harriet Martineau in her Society in America, 4th Edition, 1837, vol. ii, p. 322, could say: "Parents put into their children's hands as religious books, foul libels against the Catholics which are circulated throughout the country. In the west I happened to find a book of this kind which no epithet but 'filthy' will describe." Qu.? Maria Monk's Awful Disclosures, 1836.

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France to cease to be united to the old (1). For whatever cause or combination of causes, Franklin left Canada a very few days after he entered it, leaving it to work out its own destiny; and so far as is known he never saw it again.

But Canada has him in great measure to thank for her being as she is the brightest jewel in the British Crown, and for her flying the flag that braved a thousand years the battle and the breeze; and she may forgive him for the fruitless attempt to sever her destinies from the rest of the British world. He succeeded because he could persuade Englishmen; he failed because he could not persuade French-Canadians; for both his success and his failure, we are devoutly thankful at this time of Thanksgiving.

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(1) Garneau, the leading French Canadian historian of Canada in his Histoire du Canada, Paris, 1920, vol. ii, p. 368, says:"Franklin n'avait pas ete longtemps en Canada sans voir que tous ses efforts seraient inutiles: les Canadiens se rappellaient avec quelle ardeur il avait engage 1' Angleterre a entreprendre la conquete de leur pays, vingt ans auparavant." The authorities cited are not conclusive in that regard. Journal of Charles Carroll, p. 23; John Bigelow's Franklin's Complete Works, N.Y., 1887-8, Vol. iii, p. 43. Some of the biographers of Franklin express astonishment at his being selected for the mission, having written the "Canada Pamphlet;" but I do not think that had anything to do with his failure.

NOTE.--Mr. Justice Riddell having prepared an Address at the request of THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF PENNSYLVANIA on "BENJAMIN FRANKLIN'S MISSION TO CANADA AND THE CAUSES OF ITS FAILURE", the officers of that Society requested him to preface the Address by an account of Franklin's efforts to retain Canada in the Empire. He did so by reading part of the above paper; and the part so read is printed in the Proceedings of the Pennsylvania Society with the following memo:

"It having been suggested that it would increase the value and interest of the Paper read before the Historical Society of Pennsylvania on Benjamin Franklin's Mission to Canada and the Causes of its Failure were some account given of his part in earlier years in having Canada become part of the British Empire, I have therefore here prefixed portion of an Address before the Empire Club of Canada at Toronto, November 15, 1923, dealing with the little known but very important episode in the life of Franklin and in the history of the world. The Empire Club very gladly gives its consent to the use of this Address by its sister organization, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania; and sending its warmest greetings, hopes that the unity between and among the English-speaking peoples may continue and increase in aeternum."

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Benjamin Franklin and Canada


A review of historical events from the 1750’s. Franklin’s attitude towards Canada; his interest always in America. Examples of his dexterity and ability as a pamphleteer. The celebrated “Canada pamphlet.” A detailed review of Franklin’s words and arguments as outlined in these pamphlets. The prevailing of Franklin’s argument: Canada was retained; the fear of French-Canadians and French-Indians was removed; what Vergennes had prophesied took place; the Thirteen Colonies rebelled and the old British Empire was rent in twain to be time destroyed and a new British Empire built on the old foundations. Franklin not done with Canada when he had successfully advocated its retention by Britain. Thoughts and actions with regard to obtaining Canada as the fourteenth state. Attempting to sway Canada to the American cause. Ways in which Franklin was objectionable to the French-Canadians. Canada having Franklin to thank in great measure for her being as she is the brightest jewel in the British Crown, and for her flying the flag that braved a thousand years the battle and the breeze; forgiving him for the fruitless attempt to sever her destinies from the rest of the British world.